Quarter life crisis, here we come! Are you having conversations (like what my husband puts me through quite often) about just not knowing what you want to do with your life? You probably say things like “I don’t know if this job is right for me”, “how am I 20-something and still have no clue where I’m going in life”, or my favorite “I don’t want to use my degree. What am I doing?” These are real life phrases that friends, family members, and acquaintances have said to me. It’s a testament that the quarter life crisis is a real thing brought on by the stress of choosing a career path and transitioning into adulthood.
I’m going to make this very clear. I truly believe that my ability to know what I want to do in life at the age of 25 is a pretty large exception to the rule. That’s why I’m going to stress the importance of this next sentence. It’s okay to have no idea what you want to do with the rest of your life. It’s not okay to sit around and avoid figuring that out.
Out of my group of friends, both male and female, I can name at least 5 people in their mid-twenties who don’t have a clear path in their head of what they want to do. Many want to completely change their line of work. One friend who has her teaching license isn’t so sure about that road any more. Another is grappling with the choice of giving up full-time work to attend graduate school or trudging along for the next five years in a part-time program. These decisions aren’t easy and you surely aren’t alone despite feeling confused and isolated at times. Have no fear, though! Here are some simple steps to help lead you down the path to finding out where you want to go with your life. It won’t be easy, but I promise it’ll be worth it!
Step one: Grab a pen and paper (I’m still old school; don’t judge me!) and write down your dreams and goals. Really think about what brings you enjoyment and what type of job would make you happiest. Do you like working with people? Are you an excellent singer/dancer that has dreamed about being on Broadway? Maybe you’ve always wanted to be an astronaut. Whatever it is (and it can be more than one thing) write it down so you can get a clear visual of what it is you might be running towards.
Step two: Make a checklist. Write down all the things you would have to do to reach these goals. This could include anything from getting a specific degree, taking a certification course, networking, or learning a few new skills. The key here is to get a better understanding of how you will reach your destination.
Step three: Do something else in the meantime. While you’re trying to figure all of this out, don’t just sit around and do nothing, dwelling on the fact that you’re confused and feeling lost. Instead, get a part-time job or volunteer. This will help you stay motivated and might introduce you to a career path you never previously thought of. It might also show you exactly what you don’t want to do.
Now, I’m going to show you how this works in real life. My husband (who is being a very good sport about me writing all of this) is a great example of how to take these steps and turn it into reality (love you hunny!). He is notorious for the 11 pm “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” conversations. He got a degree in business that he doesn’t necessarily love, but thought would be useful for his future. Then, he got a job using that degree that made him the most miserable person in the world. Thankfully he’s out of there and working somewhere new that is 1,000 times better, but still isn’t exactly what he’s looking for. Anyway, here is a breakdown of his quarter life crisis based on the steps listed above.
Step one: His dreams consist of being a full-time racecar driver, owning his own sports supplement business, or creating a dog bed that doesn’t get torn to shreds in an instant (all three are clearly very different). He used to race cars and has a need for adrenaline rushes. He is also extremely into fitness and slightly obsessed with our American Bulldog, Koa, who likes to tear things apart.
Step two: To be a racecar driver you need a lot of money. After tons of conversations, this one really isn’t in the cards for us unless he magically finds a sponsor or we hit the lottery. To own your own supplement company you must contact different labs, do test trials, and market this thing to all ends of the earth. There are similar steps to getting dog beds made. Both require lots of research into the industry and finding a well-reputed manufacturer. This may also require getting a small business loan or finding some other, non-illegal (just in case you had other ideas) ways to get start-up money.
Step three: In the meantime, he’s working full-time and helping me build up our small business, Animal Lover Funding. The checklist has even started to be whittled down. He has contacted multiple manufacturers (for both goals), is having samples sent, and trying to decide where his true passion lies. His evenings are spent lying in bed next to me researching about both to his hearts content trying to find what’s really best for him.
Now here’s the kicker. I’m not sure when he’ll really know, and that’s totally fine. The only thing that matters is that he’s finally taking charge of figuring out where he wants to be and what he wants to do. So, even if you’re lost, confused, and feel pressed for time, don’t let it stop you. You will figure out your career path with a little effort and you’ll be so much happier once you’re truly where you want to be.
Now it’s your turn. What are you goals and how do you plan on reaching them?